Loughborough 1st team Vs Stirling 1st team
|7th||Goal – Stirling 1-0 Loughborough – number 9|
|32nd||Booking – Yellow card – Stirling|
|50th||Substitution – Loughborough – ON- 14 OFF- 10|
|55th||Substitution – Loughborough – ON- 15 OFF- 9|
|65th||Substitution – Stirling|
|78th||Substitution – Loughborough – ON 16 OFF- 5|
|15||LW||Ben Ward Cochrane|
With Loughborough coming off a 2-2 draw with Birmingham it was time for them to step it up against a 2nd place Stirling side going strong after their 1-0 win against Nottingham. As the referee checks both sides the game begins with Loughborough kicking off. Stirling definitely the strong team in the opening stages of the game, as they put Loughborough under pressure from the off. As Loughborough try to settle the game down by playing ball around the back, they were still sloppy as a loose ball allowed the Stirling to press to put them causing further pressure.
Through the next passage of play Stirling has most of the possession in the final third however, Loughborough held a strong back four that didn’t allow them through with crucial tackles coming from all on more than one occasion.
Loughborough where starting to find their feet but in the 7th minute with a simple ball on from centre of the park the centre-backs were napping as a flick onto their number 9 was successful and it was an easy finish for him in the bottom right corner, the keeper couldn’t do much about it.
Loughborough picked it up again as didn’t want to let the goal dishearten them, as they were taking their turn at keep-ball but weren’t testing the Stirling defence, as Stirling continued to take shots already testing the Loughborough keeper, forcing him to make a David De Gea like save already.
It was clearly going to be a physical encounter between the two as a range of challenges where going in from both sides and both sides giving away a number of fouls throughout the game. You could see a sign frustration from Stirling’s number 9 come through as he was jostling for the ball and kicked out at Loughborough’s centre-back but, the ref took no action and let the game continue. Later in the half a Stirling player slapped the Loughborough umber 8 centre-mid after he put in a strong tackle to win the ball back.
Chances where arising for Loughborough as they came extremely close on more than one occasion with a header going inches wide of the post from the number 5 after a long ball from a free-kick, and a great save’s from the Stirling goal-keeper. One chance the ball came to Dapo Afalayan in midfield and with him taking on two players and playing a clever 1-2 with number 9, he laid it off for the striker who struck the ball clean and forced the goalkeeper to parry it into the air but caught the second ball.
Around 15 minutes in of the first half Loughborough where much more comfortable on the ball not giving Stirling much chance but still couldn’t deliver that crucial ball to the strikers. The stand out player so far for Loughborough was number 7 Dapo Afalayan who had a chance or two himself through the half, but not putting any on target.
Loughborough were mixing their passing style up at stages as we saw the quick passing in midfield to the long ball lofted for from the centre-backs to the strikers to hold up the play, this play was followed by a long range shot that skimmed the netting on the roof of the goal as it went past. Loughborough just seemed to be trying to do too much with the ball in the final 3rd, as Dapo turned his man well and with a clever flick he tried to take on that extra man rather than get his shot away.
The ball shifted back to Stirling more as Loughborough were sitting back they were passing the ball around the box with ease, the right-back slipped when trying to intercept the ball and the Stirling winger was through but his shot was very poor going no were near the goal. They continued to press and the centre-back made a crucial interference that caused Stirling’s chance to come to nothing. Around half an hour mark Loughborough went to break into a counter from defending a corner but, the player was blatantly taken out giving the ref no chance to discipline the Stirling player with a yellow card as he stopped the play.
With Stirling trying to play over the defence the goal-keeper was forced to take a Neuer like approach and run 15 yards out of his box to clear it up field, the striker went up for and challenge and got hurt in the process needing the physio’s attention but luckily was able to continue.
The half ended with Stirling being the stronger team as they were getting more chances, the striker attempting a scissor kick from the edge of the box but he didn’t connect cleanly with the ball and it was cleared, Loughborough got one more chance in the half with a shot from the edge of the box but it was inches over the bar and would have tested the keeper if it was on target.
Half Time – Loughborough 0-1 Stirling
Loughborough must have received a message off the coach to start quickly and that’s exactly what they did pressing high up the pitch not letting Stirling out of their half. As Loughborough’s number 7 continues to create chances and causing problems for Stirling as he concedes a few fouls they don’t know how to deal with his quick footwork.
Around the 50th minute mark the Loughborough coach made a substitute which saw number 14 on and number 10 come off and making another a few minutes later with number 15 on and 9 off. Over the ten minutes really saw Loughborough dominate play as they had some shots coming from number 15 who’s shot was deflected just wide of the left post. Number 5’s header as he rose into the air struck the crossbar that was shaking after it causing a scrappy clearance from the Stirling defence.
Loughborough where keeping great shape through the pitch making it very hard for the opposition to create anything, blocking any attempt they made for goal. And when they were short on numbers at the back each defender would put in that extra shift to cover their teammates and not concede again. Another chance was when the long throw from the Lboro left-back and a flick on to the back post but the keeper was able to get down quick enough to cover his goal and put it out for a corner, another chance gone begging for the team. On the corner the players crowded the keeper making it difficult, he punched the initial cross in the air and was able to gather the second ball. By far the best Stirling player so far.
Another great chance came when Loughborough won a free-kick on the edge of the box, number 15 stood over it. He struck it very true and it was a powerful strike of the ball but the keeper made the save. The Stirling goalkeeper is definitely keep his team in this game as they could have conceded a number of goals if it wasn’t for him. Loughborough are certainly the better team in this second half.
The game turned up a notch as each team started to fly into the challenges, you could see this game was physically demanding as players where going down with cramp. Stirling made a sub on the 65th minute just to freshen things up. They were having more of the ball now and you could see they were just to keep possession at the Lboro end as they wanted to calm the game back again.
Lboro’s number 8 went on a darting run and earned a free-kick in a similar place to the previous one, this time number 15’s shot skimmed the crossbar on the way over which was very unlucky it was great effort. Stirling then came back into the game of the next part as Loughborough pushed men forward they were open at the back. The Stirling RB was strong in possession of the ball and played the ball down the line to number 9. He took on the first centre back with ease with some cleaver footwork but the second defender cleaned up. On the 65th minute Loughborough made a sub seeing number 16 on for number 5.
The fresh Loughborough CB played a long ball up to the left-wing who controlled it well under pressure and won a throwing. From this a long throw into the box and with an excellent attempt with a bicycle-kick there was a huge shout for handball from all the players, I doubt the defender could have done much about it but the referee was in his favour and let it continue.
In the final minutes of the game Stirling just played to run down the clock as every time they won the ball it was straight to the corner to waste as much time as possible that was left in the game. Lboro where giving it their best efforts to get any chance at all. The final chance of the game was Stirling’s as the centre-back got caught ball watching and the striker manage to steal it from him however, with a fantastic recovery he put in a perfectly timed challenge, anything else would have been a penalty.
This was a frustration result for Loughborough to lose this only leaving them on 1 point from 3 games and that win give Stirling 7 points from 3 games.
Full Time – Loughborough 0-1 Stirling
– By Josh White